|Subject: Age: East Timor: Five altars find
a new home
The Age June 18 2002
Five altars find a new home
By Andra Jackson
Staunchly Catholic East Timor will benefit from falling vocations in Australia with the donation of five no-longer-used altars.
The carrara marble altars, with gold inlaid mosaics and detailed stonework, were once centrepieces of two chapels in Ballarat's Redemptorist Monastery.
Built in 1905, the monastery had 110 bedrooms as well as bishop quarters, developer Greg Oates said yesterday.
It was sold in 1998 because "the church didn't have the personnel to look after it any longer. It was a case of ageing priests. In the end there were something like three or four priests in this huge building."
Mr Oates is chairman of Monastery Apartment, the company that, with builder A&C Robins Construction, is redeveloping the 6500squaremetre monastery which is by Wendouree Lake into 32apartments.
With any fittings now the builder's property, A&C Robins Construction managing director Alex Robins was left with five altars one including a tabernacle.
He thought of East Timor, where he had worked voluntarily to build a hospital. He knew many East Timor churches were badly damaged by Indonesian troops and decided to offer altars worth $250,000 as a gift.
The new country's Catholic Church readily accepted, but the next hurdle was how to get the gift to its recipients. The altars weigh about 30 tonnes between them.
Other companies joined in the goodwill gesture.
Mr Oates said local stonemason Ballarat Rock Works had offered to help disassemble the altars.
Ballarat truck operator Bob Freeman is bringing the altars to Melbourne, and transport company Connex is moving them to Dili, where the Australian army will take them into its care.
East Timor architect Cidalio de Oliveria, who came to Ballarat to watch the altars being dismantled, will supervise their installation in East Timor.
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